When nature calls, you can’t put it on hold

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The best part of last week’s story about my adventures in radio commercials is the part I didn’t tell: getting there.

But first, some context.

I have the bladder of a hamster. And my urgency ratio is directly linked to my stress level. The higher the stress, the greater the urgency. If I’m anxious or stressed, I think I have to go. Even if I don’t. But I’ll go anyway. Just in case. It’s like a nervous tic.

Come to think of it, I have the bladder of a nervous tick.

What makes me anxious? (I mean, in addition to the long working list.) Worrying that I might have to go and have nowhere to go to go. Just typing that makes me want to go.

(Fun side note: Don’t you wish you could go on car trips with me?)

My urological neurosis is intensified by the diuretics I take to keep my blood pressure within reasonable limits. So, going somewhere with me is like taking the dog for a walk. Where you see gas stations on the highway, I see fire hydrants.

And right about now, you’re thinking, “Really? You’re going to write about urine?” Before you flip to the sports page in a huff, rest assured, this isn’t just an exploration of bodily fluid. It’s a tale of potential disaster, my friend, and it could  happen to you.

Context established, let’s proceed to setting: It’s the morning of the recording session. Besides needing to be in San Francisco by a certain time, I also needed to leave San Francisco in time to meet my husbie in San Jose for a five-day vacationette. For which I did not pack until about an hour before I left.

As I hurled things into my suitcase, it occurred to me that I didn’t consider how long a recording session takes. (I’d figured, what, 30 minutes, tops?) Oh no. What if it takes hours? What if I’m stuck in the evening rush hour?


Speaking of rush hour, although I’d planned ample commute time into the city, I hadn’t anticipated one thing: weather. That morning, the heavens were gushing like Mother Nature was on diuretics too. I needed to leave about an hour earlier. Which plopped me right into the I-80 morning commute.

This all adds up to one thing: Stress. (Please refer to third paragraph for significance.) Right around Richmond, that last cup of black coffee I chugged on the way out the door kicked in. Oh no. Gotta go.

In Richmond? You think I’m in


I continued to Berkeley, where the traffic always clogs for no apparent reason, and now it was getting serious. My bladder dummy light flashed on. But pull off in Berkeley in a traffic jam? It’d take longer to find a gas station than to get downtown.

By the time I reached the Bay Bridge toll plaza, I was sweating. I looked at the 360-degree traffic jam and realized that even if there was a place to pull over, I’d never be able to. And then I noticed the commute time roadside sign: Downtown – 24 minutes. To go about two miles, people. Creatures have evolved faster.

Caught in the slow conveyor belt of traffic, I reached the bridge – the point of no return. Signs all along the way warn, “No stopping on the bridge.”

This is where anxiety segues into panic.

What would you do, sitting there in gridlock and pouring rain, your bladder at capacity? If you’re a guy, no problem: crack the door, whip it out, and ahhh – sweet relief. It’s trickier for us gals. I imagined wagging my big, bare tail out the door, losing control of the car and rolling across five lanes of traffic like an out-of-control fire hose. It was an unhappy image.

I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists on the wheel, searching for an empty can or bottle in the back seat. Nothing. I considered pulling off at Treasure Island, but I didn’t know my way around there, and didn’t have time to get lost.

I was going to burst. I wondered if my bucket seat could live up to its name. And imagined walking into a posh San Francisco recording studio in pee-drenched jeans. Uncool, people.

Maybe if I stood in the downpour and got soaked all over, they wouldn’t notice?


I had to make it to the Fremont Street off-ramp. I had to. And when I did, I was pulling over and going right there, even if some jerkwad recorded it and posted it on YouTube. I didn’t care. And I realized I’d probably be raped and murdered by gangsters too, but at this point, that seemed less painful. But yet… I hit the ramp and just couldn’t do it.

It gets worse. I was unfamiliar with the studio’s location. Now, finding a parking spot in San Francisco is always a crapshoot, but when you’re lost? It’d be easier to find a bejeweled magical unicorn. Suddenly, my luck did a 180. My Google map was spot on. I didn’t hit any red lights. It was only a couple blocks away. And so help me, as God is my witness, there was an empty parking space in front of the building.

And no, smarty-pants, it wasn’t right next to the unicorn.

I leaped from the car and sprint-waddled through the lobby for the restroom, making it within a nanosecond of complete urethral failure. I nearly wept from relief.

I’ll tell you what. I’m never pushing my potty luck again. My near-disaster traumatized me to this moment. In fact, just thinking about it…

Excuse me. Gotta go.

— Follow Debra DeAngelo on Twitter. Links are posted at and http://www.edebra.com and http://www.wintersexpress.com. Find Debra’s columns online at http://www.wintersexpress.com, http://www.edebra.com and http://www.ipinion.us

  1. Hilarious. One of our daughter’s shares your bladder size. Her three siblings (and, yes, her parents) have teased her mercilessly over the years about her constant need to stop and ‘take care of business’. Thanks for capturing it so well. I have forwarded it to all our kids so they can laugh, again, at their sister.

  2. Hilarious. One of our daughter’s shares your bladder size. Her three siblings (and, yes, her parents) have teased her mercilessly over the years about her constant need to stop and ‘take care of business’. Thanks for capturing it so well. I have forwarded it to all our kids so they can laugh, again, at their sister.

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